As it does most years, IWC used its time in the watch trade-fair spotlight in 2021 to refresh one of its six major collections. At the recently concluded Watches & Wonders virtual event, the company expanded its ever-popular Big Pilot’s Watch series with the release of the first 43-mm, blue-dialed Big Pilot models as the clear headliner. Beyond that launch, however, IWC had other heavy hitters in the lineup, including a new, downsized 41-mm Pilot’s Chronograph, and on the highest end of horology, two distinctive perpetual calendars in two of it’s Pilot’s Watch sub-families.
One of these new models, the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar, joins the brand’s regular production and features a steel case and blue colorway; the other, a limited edition, brings this high complication to IWC’s military-aesthetic Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun series, specifically in its eye-catching “Mojave Desert” iteration.
Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Blue Dial
Probably the more attention-grabbing release of the duo is the blue-dialed, steel-cased Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar. The watch is the first regular-production perpetual calendar in IWC’s flagship Big Pilot series in quite some time, and completely refreshes its classical design by staging its highly intricate but still rather legible calendar configuration on a deep blue field.
The watch is housed in the 46.2-mm brushed steel case common to the contemporary Big Pilot’s Watch collection, which has polished accents and stands somewhat tall on the wrist at 15.4 mm thick. The case features a large, vintage-influenced conical crown, which screws in to aid in the model’s 60-meter water resistance. The watch is secured to the wrist with a blue calf leather strap, fastened by a steel folding clasp.
Underneath the anti-reflective-coated sapphire crystal lies the main attraction, the blue sunray dial, which packs displays for all the various complications associated with a perpetual calendar but manages to be overall quite legible. This is in large part due to the enlarged, combined hour-and-minute ring along the edge of the surface, and the matching lume-filled pilot-style hands for the hour and minute at the center of the dial. Additionally, the various whites, red, and silvers used for the remaining features, while not as large or bold as the basic timekeeping aspects of the watch, nonetheless contrast quite well with the bright blue dial. Speaking to these remaining features, they include, at 12 o’clock, the double moon-phase that has become a signature of IWC’s perpetual calendars; at 3 o’clock, a hybrid date and 7-day power reserve indicator; at 6 o’clock, a month indicator; at 7:30, a year window; and at 9 o’clock, a combined day indicator and running seconds subdial.
Notably, this perpetual calendar lacks a leap-year indicator, and this is by design: the movement, Caliber IWC 52615, steadily keeps track of the quadrennial happening more discreetly than most other watches in this category. The in-house-developed automatic movement has a number of other capabilities, including a Pellaton automatic winding system, which is essentially a bi-directional pawl-based winding system produced from ceramic, and which allows for greater resistance to wear over time. The perpetual calendar aspect of the watch is also operated via a module dubbed the Kurt Klaus perpetual calendar module, which allows the user to more quickly correct the time if the power reserve has run out after a few days’ time. The excellently finished automatic caliber contains 54 jewels, beats at 28,800 vph, maintains a seven-day (or 168-hour) power serve, and is visible behind a sapphire caseback.
Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert”
A follow-up to the well-received chronograph model released in 2019, the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert,” is visually very similar to its steel, blue-dialed cousin, but is differentiated foremost by its military-influenced “desert tan” colorway. The specific inspiration for the model comes from the landscape of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in the Mojave Desert (hence its “Mojave Desert” nickname), where the U.S. Navy tests next-generation weapons systems and trains pilots to use them.
The case, here in a specially developed “desert tan” ceramic, maintains the same dimensions, at 46.5 mm by 15.6 mm. Its two metal elements include the crown, which is likely produced from steel, and the exhibition caseback showcasing the Caliber IWC 52615, which is composed of titanium, with a sapphire window. The dial features an overall matte look, primarily using a greenish brown, along with a tan tone for its details, and eschewing any additional red accents; subtle touches of gray can be found in the moon-phase. Overall, the watch is both a unique take on the classical complication and a supremely durable timepiece.
Price and Availability
Both the Top Gun and blue-dial editions of the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar are available now via authorized boutiques, with the Top Gun limited to 150 total editions and marked at $35,000, and the blue-dial version to go into regular production for $29,900.
To learn more, visit IWC, here.